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Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis says 2022 was “the biggest year ever for crypto hacking,” with $3.8 billion stolen from cryptocurrency businesses. The firm added that decentralized finance (defi) protocol hacks accounted for 82.1% of all cryptocurrency stolen by hackers during the year.
Crypto Hacking Hit Record High in 2022
Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis published a section of its upcoming 2023 Crypto Crime Report on Wednesday, stating:
2022 was the biggest year ever for crypto hacking, with $3.8 billion stolen from cryptocurrency businesses.
The firm explained that crypto hacking activity significantly increased in March and peaked in October — the month which “became the biggest single month ever for cryptocurrency hacking, as $775.7 million was stolen in 32 separate attacks,” Chainalysis described.
The firm added that “82.1% of all cryptocurrency stolen by hackers — a total of $3.1 billion” came from decentralized finance (defi) hacks. Noting that this percentage was up from 73.3% in 2021, the firm pointed out that $3.1 billion of 64% came from cross-chain bridge protocols specifically.
Chainalysis also detailed that “North Korea-linked hackers … have been by far the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers over the last few years,” elaborating:
In 2022, they shattered their own records for theft, stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency across several hacks we’ve attributed to them.
Moreover, the blockchain analytics firm stated that North Korea-linked hackers stole $1.1 billion of that amount from defi protocols, making North Korea “one of the driving forces behind the defi hacking trend that intensified in 2022.” Besides defi protocols, Chainalysis noted that “North Korea-linked hackers also tend to send large sums to mixers, which have typically been the cornerstone of their money laundering process.”
The firm further detailed that “For much of 2021 and 2022, North Korea-linked hackers almost exclusively used Tornado Cash to launder cryptocurrency stolen in hacks.” Ethereum mixer Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the U.S. government in August last year.
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